Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is Integral Cinema (Part 1)



In my research into the application of Integral Theory for cinematic media theory and practice, I am continually asking and being asked the question "What is Integral Cinema?" We can start to answer this question by going back to the person who first used this term, French avant-garde filmmaker Germaine Dulac, in the 1920s and 30s. Dulac was a pioneer in both experimental and feminist cinema and used the term "Integral Cinema" to describe her emerging experimental approach. Integral Cinema as defined by Dulac are cinematic works that use the inherent language of the cinema to capture and express the interior and exterior life of both the individual and the collective. Or put another way, a moving image work that uses the cinema's unique textual, auditory, visual, and temporal (accumulated meaning patterns over the duration of the work) expressive elements to explore and integrate the internal life and external world of the individual and collective.

A recent example of this type of work is The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003), with the matrix representing the interior life of the individual and collective, and the outside, waking human and machine worlds as the external world of the individual and the collective. You can also see Germaine Dulac's classic Integral cinematic work The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928) in its entirely for free online at: http://www.ubu.com/film/dulac_coquille.html (the above image is from this film).

With further inquiry I discovered that this definition just scratches the surface of answering the question, What is Integral Cinema?...and in upcoming posts I will flesh flesh out the more complete answer to this question...



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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Integral Cinema Studio Dialogue with Ken Wilber (Part 3 & 4)


Announcing the Online Publication of Part 3 and 4 of 
An Audio Dialogue Between Ken Wilber and Mark Allan Kaplan 
Exploring the Application of Integral Theory to 
Cinematic Media Theory and Practice.

For over a year now, Integral Cinema Project Lead Researcher Mark Allan Kaplan has been producing a groundbreaking monthly article series at Integral Life: the much-acclaimed Integral Cinema Studio. In this remarkable exploration, Mark walks us through all of the main elements of Integral theory—using some of our favorite movies to illustrate the basics of the Integral approach, while noting how each of these elements has shaped the cinema experience since the invention of film itself. Not only does this series offer a wealth of perspective and insight to film, filmmakers, and audiences alike, but it also brings more color, more sound, and more awesome explosions to Integral thought and practice! Listen as Mark and Ken Wilber take an in-depth look at one of Integral Life's longest-running series, Integral Cinema Studio.

This dialogue serves as a wonderful introduction to the major elements of integral theory. For those already familiar with the Integral model, this is a nice opportunity to both revisit your understanding of integral theory and to see how it can be applied to just about any interest, activity, or pursuit that you may have.

Either way, Integral Cinema Studio is a terrific way to deepen and enrich your own experience of film, simply by recognizing some of the deeper patterns and perspectives running through your favorite movies that you may not have recognized before. All of the elements of the Integral model are present in our awareness right now; Integral theory simply points to all the various aspects and dimensions that shape our experience of this present moment. It's therefore no surprise that we can see all of these elements reflected in various characters, conflicts, and stories throughout the history of film. Of course, whether the film-makers themselves actually intended this, or just intuited it, is another question—and to some degree inconsequential to the beauty and profundity we experience when these ideas and perspectives come to life on the big screen.

What's more, this discussion and blog series promises to inspire a whole new generation of writers and filmmakers. It's not just how you express these perspectives, ideas, and insights—Integral Art does not require you to represent all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, etc. in your work (though all of these elements are implicitly present in every piece of art). Rather, it's about whether you are able to account for all of these in your own awareness, thereby allowing you to draw from a far richer, more colorful, and more comprehensive pallet of human experience.

So grab a snack from the concession stand, turn off your phone, and enjoy this groundbreaking discussion between Mark Allan Kaplan and Ken Wilber!


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Integral Cinema Set and Setting Viewing Practice




During my research into the application of Integral Theory for cinematic media theory and practice I have been developing and experimenting with potential integrally-informed viewing practices. One practice that appears to be significantly effective for establishing an integrally-informed viewing set and setting is to do a quick check-in of dimension-perspectives while sitting in the theater, or any in any viewing space, waiting for the cinematic work to start…

Integral Cinema Set and Setting Viewing Practice:
  • With eyes open or closed and sitting in a comfortable position,  bring your awareness to your I-space or your inner-beingness or self-ness, feeling what it feels like to be an "I"; 
  • Then try to sense the WE-space between yourself and the other audience members (or if alone, you can imagine others who have or who are currently viewing the same cinematic work); 
  • Then bring your awareness to the IT-space or the physical reality around you, the chair or other surface you are sitting in, the floor beneath your feet, the screen in front of you, etc.; 
  • Then try to sense the ITS-space or the environment around you, the atmosphere of the theater or room as a whole, the air in the space, the auditory resonance of the space, etc. 
  • Next, bring your awareness to your physical body; 
  • Then try to sense your energy body, the subtle energetic field within and around you; 
  • Then bring your awareness to your emotional body, the subtle emotional field radiating within you; 
  • Then your mental body, the causal field that contains your thoughts and mental images; 
  • Then your witness body, imagining the ability to witness yourself from the outside of your physical, energetic, emotional and mental beingness; 
  • Finally try to get a sense of non-dual beingness, that part of you that is part of all that is. 
With practice this process can be performed within a couple of minutes and has the potential to help you enter an inner-viewing-space that is open, lucid and aware of multiple domains.

*This practice is adapted from Integral Life Practice.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Integral Cinema Studio Dialogue with Ken Wilber (Part 2)


Announcing the Online Publication of Part Two of 
An Audio Dialogue Between Ken Wilber and Mark Allan Kaplan 
Exploring the Application of Integral Theory to 
Cinematic Media Theory and Practice.

For over a year now, Integral Cinema Project Lead Researcher Mark Allan Kaplan has been producing a groundbreaking monthly article series at Integral Life: the much-acclaimed Integral Cinema Studio. In this remarkable exploration, Mark walks us through all of the main elements of Integral theory—using some of our favorite movies to illustrate the basics of the Integral approach, while noting how each of these elements has shaped the cinema experience since the invention of film itself. Not only does this series offer a wealth of perspective and insight to film, filmmakers, and audiences alike, but it also brings more color, more sound, and more awesome explosions to Integral thought and practice! Listen as Mark and Ken Wilber take an in-depth look at one of Integral Life's longest-running series, Integral Cinema Studio.

This dialogue serves as a wonderful introduction to the major elements of integral theory. For those already familiar with the Integral model, this is a nice opportunity to both revisit your understanding of integral theory and to see how it can be applied to just about any interest, activity, or pursuit that you may have.

Either way, Integral Cinema Studio is a terrific way to deepen and enrich your own experience of film, simply by recognizing some of the deeper patterns and perspectives running through your favorite movies that you may not have recognized before. All of the elements of the Integral model are present in our awareness right now; Integral theory simply points to all the various aspects and dimensions that shape our experience of this present moment. It's therefore no surprise that we can see all of these elements reflected in various characters, conflicts, and stories throughout the history of film. Of course, whether the film-makers themselves actually intended this, or just intuited it, is another question—and to some degree inconsequential to the beauty and profundity we experience when these ideas and perspectives come to life on the big screen.

What's more, this discussion and blog series promises to inspire a whole new generation of writers and filmmakers. It's not just how you express these perspectives, ideas, and insights—Integral Art does not require you to represent all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, etc. in your work (though all of these elements are implicitly present in every piece of art). Rather, it's about whether you are able to account for all of these in your own awareness, thereby allowing you to draw from a far richer, more colorful, and more comprehensive pallet of human experience.

So grab a snack from the concession stand, turn off your phone, and enjoy this groundbreaking discussion between Mark Allan Kaplan and Ken Wilber!


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ken Wilber on the Comprehensive Nature of Cinema


The integration of an Integral or aperspectival vision, or the perceptual lenses of quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types in Ken Wilber's AQAL model, into a creative work is what Wilber refers  to as comprehensive art, and he differentiates this form of Integral Art from integrally-informed art, which is “any art produced by integral consciousness” (Wilber, 2003). Usually, comprehensive art refers to art that has been consciously created to reflect an integral perspective, but Wilber notes that the art of the cinema is more inherently comprehensive than other artistic mediums because it employs the multiple forms of expression of text, image, and sound (Wilber, 2003).

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Google Glass and the Advancement of the Subjective Lens



The recent video (above) created by the partnership between Fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg and Google using Google's new Google Glass augmented reality glasses, suggests that this emerging convergence technology has the potential to transform how movies are made. This transformation appears to not just be about the extreme portability and non-intrusive nature of the technology, which are in themselves great advances, but this new wearable camera may very well bring us into the realm of experiencing a much more powerful subjective lens experience...bringing the subjective eye-line closer into alignment. Time will tell...but this tech looks to be full of potential in both the personal and professional movie-making and viewing space.

In addition to the potential shift in the movie making and viewing experience, there is the added dimension here of how having technology closer to our being, both physically and perceptually will effect our consciousness. The convergence of human and technology spaces has been and continues to be a topic of both inspiration and trepidation...are we evolving into a new form...the transhuman....and heading toward a new age marked by a profound techno-human shift that Ray Kurzweil calls the Singularity...or are we creating further distance and disassociation between our selves, each other and the world...for me, I see this movement as an advance like all other advances, filled with both potential blessings and challenges...for now...this looks like fun...


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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Integral Cinema Project Receives Donation of Write Brothers Software



The Integral Cinema Project has received the generous donation of Movie Magic Screenwriter, Dramatica Pro, and Outline 4D cinematic story creation software programs from Write Brothers, Inc.

Movie Magic Screenwriter is one of the film industry’s most highly regarded screenwriting software programs, Dramatica Pro is an award-winning story creation program, and Outline 4D is a story outlining and timeline building program.

The Integral Cinema Project is using these three software programs to help study the development process of the textual dimension of cinematic creation.

Our initial testing of these programs suggests that they can be used a valuable tools in the creation of integrally-informed cinematic works by offering the integrally-informed cinematic creator and creative team a wide range of story creation methodologies and dimension-perspectives.

Dramatica Pro offers a powerful story creation methodology based on a unique and integrally-informed story development theory and approach, which uses a four-quadrant approach to story structure. Like Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, Dramatica’s quadratic approach is based on an expansion of the big three domains of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person dimension-perspectives. While Wilber’s model adds the 3rd person plural as the fourth quadrant, Dramatica uses the addition of the 1st person plural dimension-perspective.

Outline 4D extends this integrally-informed story creation process by adding the ability to view the created story from in-depth and overview vertical-outline and horizontal-timeline perspectives, offering the capacity to move through the individual and collective dimensions of a story with varying depth and span.

Movie Magic Screenwriter integrates these developed multi-dimensional story elements and assists in the further development of the created story into a screenplay (teleplay, etc.) format, while also offering tools to help take the elements of the screenplay into the next pre-production and production phases of script breakdown, storyboarding, scheduling and budgeting.

We are deeply grateful for the contribution of these software programs, and for the support and inspiration of the creators of Write Brothers software.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Integral Cinema Studio Dialogue with Ken Wilber (Part 1)


Announcing the Online Publication of Part One of 
An Audio Dialogue Between Ken Wilber and Mark Allan Kaplan 
Exploring the Application of Integral Theory to 
Cinematic Media Theory and Practice.

For over a year now, Integral Cinema Project Lead Researcher Mark Allan Kaplan has been producing a groundbreaking monthly article series at Integral Life: the much-acclaimed Integral Cinema Studio. In this remarkable exploration, Mark walks us through all of the main elements of Integral theory—using some of our favorite movies to illustrate the basics of the Integral approach, while noting how each of these elements has shaped the cinema experience since the invention of film itself. Not only does this series offer a wealth of perspective and insight to film, filmmakers, and audiences alike, but it also brings more color, more sound, and more awesome explosions to Integral thought and practice! Listen as Mark and Ken Wilber take an in-depth look at one of Integral Life's longest-running series, Integral Cinema Studio.

This dialogue serves as a wonderful introduction to the major elements of integral theory. For those already familiar with the Integral model, this is a nice opportunity to both revisit your understanding of integral theory and to see how it can be applied to just about any interest, activity, or pursuit that you may have.

Either way, Integral Cinema Studio is a terrific way to deepen and enrich your own experience of film, simply by recognizing some of the deeper patterns and perspectives running through your favorite movies that you may not have recognized before. All of the elements of the Integral model are present in our awareness right now; Integral theory simply points to all the various aspects and dimensions that shape our experience of this present moment. It's therefore no surprise that we can see all of these elements reflected in various characters, conflicts, and stories throughout the history of film. Of course, whether the film-makers themselves actually intended this, or just intuited it, is another question—and to some degree inconsequential to the beauty and profundity we experience when these ideas and perspectives come to life on the big screen.

What's more, this discussion and blog series promises to inspire a whole new generation of writers and filmmakers. It's not just how you express these perspectives, ideas, and insights—Integral Art does not require you to represent all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, etc. in your work (though all of these elements are implicitly present in every piece of art). Rather, it's about whether you are able to account for all of these in your own awareness, thereby allowing you to draw from a far richer, more colorful, and more comprehensive pallet of human experience.

So grab a snack from the concession stand, turn off your phone, and enjoy this groundbreaking discussion between Mark Allan Kaplan and Ken Wilber!


Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gebser on the Inclinations of the Integral Artist



In the early part of the 20th century Swiss cultural philosopher Jean Gebser discovered different structures of human consciousness reflected in various cultures and observed a relatively new emerging structure of consciousness that he eventually termed “Integral.” Gebser detected this new form of consciousness or cultural worldview in many of the scientists, writers, and artists of the early 20th century. He discerned that this new worldview consisted of the transcendence of ego-centered perception and thought, and the realization that the three dimensions of space are relative to the fourth dimension of time, thus producing an aperspectival, or multi-perspectival, time-space transcendent form of consciousness (Feuerstein, 1987). This new form of consciousness, expressed through the arts appeared to include structures in which “time is no longer spatialized but integrated and concretized as a fourth dimension” (Gebser, 1985).

For Gebser, this type of visually concretizing time along with the three-dimensions of space is an essential quality for any work of art to be considered integral because “the concretion of everything that has unfolded in time and coalesced in a spatial array is the integral attempt to reconstitute the ‘magnitude’ of man from his constituent aspects, so that he can consciously integrate himself with the whole” (Gebser, 1985). In addition to the concretion of time, Gebser (1985) also considered the concretion of interiority, or individual and collective interior dimensions, to be a precondition of the integral structure because “only the concrete can be integrated, never the merely abstract” (Gebser, 1985).

Films like Groundhog Day (1993) and Source Code (2011) are clear examples of the concretion of time or the concrete narrativization and visualization of temporal patterns in cinematic works; and films like The Matrix (1999) and Inception (2010) powerfully concretize interior dimensions of mind through text, image, and sound as well.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Germaine Dulac on Integral Cinema



The term integral cinema was first used by French avant-garde filmmaker Germaine Dulac in the 1920s. Dulac employed this term to describe cinema that utilized the natural inherent language of the cinema to evoke the interior life normally hidden beneath the exterior life of the objective world (Flitterman-Lewis, 1996). This form of cinema was also called pur cinema or visual music, because of the contention by its adherents that the language of the cinema is a language all its own, more related to music or poetics, than to literature or drama. In order to liberate the cinematic image from literary or dramatic expression, “…Dulac sought to create for the spectator a ‘cinegraphic sensation’ that could be achieved through the contemplation of pure forms in movement—the melodic arrangement of luminous reflections, the rhythmic ordering of successive shots” (Flitterman-Lewis, 1996, pp. 69-70).

While Dulac’s theoretical writings and public discourses on integral cinema mostly focus on this definition, her films reveal two distinct types of cinematic approaches. Whereas some of her films did seek to explore pure visual music approaches of using cinematic imagery, movement, and rhythm to reveal the interior life, films like her 1928 classic, La Coquille et le Clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman), reveal the raw beginnings of a more comprehensive or “integral” approach that attempts to use the inherent language of the cinema to capture and express the interior and exterior lives of both the individual and the collective. Dulac hints at this approach when she writes, “It isn’t enough to simply capture reality in order to express it in its totality; something else is necessary in order to respect it entirely, to surround it in its atmosphere, and to make its moral meaning perceptible…” (Dulac, as cited in Flitterman-Lewis, 1996, p. 49). This more comprehensive approach hauntingly captures some of the constructs of Jean Gebser’s integral worldview (1985) and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory (1995) while predating both by 21 and 67 years, respectively.

For more on this see my article Toward an Integral Cinema, available for download at: http://integrallife.com/integral-post/toward-integral-cinema

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Integral Cinema Studio Has a New Home on Integral Life


The Integral Cinema Studio article series has a new home on Integral Life's new website at: http://integrallife.com/integral-post/integral-cinema-studio-holonic-lens

Many thanks to Corey DeVos and the entire Integral Life team for their support and for all their hard work in putting up the new site and their wonderful and creative publishing work on the series.





The Integral Cinema Studio series is a pioneering exploration of film and cinema through an integral lens, in which Mark Allan Kaplan shows how all the various elements of Integral theory have been expressed on the big screen through some of our greatest and most cherished pop-culture landmarks.


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Integral Cinema Project Receives Donation of SHARM Software



The Integral Cinema Project has received the generous donation of SHARM Studio 4 Software from CyberTeam, Ltd.

SHARM Studio is a professional transformational audio tool that provides the capacity to create transformative audio entrainment soundtracks including the creation of original ambient scores along with the embedding of brainwave entrainment binaural, monaural, and/or isochronic tones.

SHARM Studio 4 Screenshot

The Integral Cinema Project is using this software to create transformative soundtracks for our cinematic experiments, and preliminary research suggests that the integration of this type of sound with integrally-designed visual and textual elements can significantly increase the immersive and transformational capacity of cinematic media.

We are deeply grateful for the support of CyberTeam.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exploring an Integral Approach to Multimedia Mental Health Interventions



As part of the Integral Cinema Project’s outreach application process, I recently consulted on a multimedia mental health intervention project at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago Schools of Medicine helping them apply an Integral approach to deepen the power and effect of their intervention. The researchers already had intuitively fleshed out the need for an intervention that addressed the intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social dimensions of the issue at hand, namely helping teens at risk learn to become more resilient in the face of the often daunting challenges of growing up in today’s fast moving and complicated world.

To help the research team apply and integrate these four main intervention dimensions in a more coordinated and effective way I created an Integrally-Informed Sensory Synchronization Template for the project, mapping the four intervention dimensions of intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social across the multimedia expressive dimensions of Text, Image (still & moving), Sound, Time (accumulated meaning patterns), and Interactivity. This integration of the intervention and expression dimensions included the mapping of desired affect patterns and their relationship to expressive modalities including textual linguistic and mimetic patterns; visual shapes, colors, tones, framing and space; audio modalities (dialogic, musical, atmospheric, effectual, etc.); and meaning patterns accumulated over time.


The goal of this approach was to help them coordinate the intervention across multiple modes of expression and perception to induce what cinematic theorist Sergei Eisenstein called the synchronization of the senses, the process in which a message, synchronized across multiple expressive dimensions, achieves the power and force of actual lived multi-sensory experience. This shift from mere information sharing to a deeply felt lived-experience has the potential to induce deep change and transformation across all four dimensions of intention, behavior, relationship formation, and socialization patterns.

This research is still ongoing but initial results suggest a great potential for this approach, and its application for use in multimedia mental health interventions, and other multimedia transformational healing endeavors, including transformational learning, and individual and collective human development applications.

Integral Cinema Project Researcher Report
By Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.


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